[Editor’s note: The St. F.X. X-Women rugby team captured bronze at the recent U Sports championship tournament in Lethbridge, Alberta.]
The three-time Atlantic University Sport (AUS) rugby MVP played like one as the St. F.X. X-Women secured another conference championship with a 58-21 victory over the Acadia Axewomen.
Joanna Alphonso scored four tries as the Blue and White hoisted the Birks Memorial Trophy, Oct. 27, on home turf at Oland Stadium.
It was the 19th conference title for the X-Women program.
“Definitely, our discipline,” the Toronto native said, when asked about keys to the win.
After a couple early yellow cards, Alphonso noted, the X-Women “really locked down on defense.”
Hannah Ellis, with two, June Beals, Alison Blanchard, Sara Hoerig and Miranda Sample also scored tries for the winners.
Fly half Danielle Franada chipped in four conversions.
“They are a good team and they came out flying,” X-Women head coach Mike Cavanagh said of the rival Axewomen.
He added the X-Women played strong defense, although the veteran bench boss said their penalty total was “too high.”
“We are pretty happy, overall, and we came out with no injuries, which is important,” Cavanagh continued.
When asked about important elements to securing another conference title, he touched on the X-Women’s depth, noting in the championship match they made six substitutions and their play “did not dip at all.”
“They really push each other,” Cavanagh said of the X-Women.
“They came back this season fit and ready to play, and they have showed great determination.”
As for capturing another AUS crown, Alphonso said “every year it is great,” noting she was a member of the X-Women squad that lost a championship match to the Axewomen.
“Winning that trophy is always a big deal – it means a lot to our team,” she added.
A day before the championship match, the AUS announced major award winners for the regular season – led by Alphonso.
The fourth-year prop – also a two-time All-Canadian – scored 10 tries.
“I couldn’t do anything without my teammates,” Alphonso said, adding she was “honoured” to receive such an “amazing” honour.
“They push me every practice and every game, so this is an award for our entire team.”
Cavanagh said she is the X-Women’s leader “on and off the field.”
“She makes all our players better,” he added, while noting Alphonso can “run around and over you.”
Cavanagh also touched on her ability to create space for her teammates, along with her prowess in scrums and lineouts.
Franada was named rookie of the year.
“It is surreal. I am so honoured. I was not expecting it at all – there are so many players who deserved it,” she told the Casket.
The Grand Prairie, Alberta native led the conference with 116 points, including six tries and 43 conversions.
“She is very versatile,” Cavanagh said, noting Franada can play any backfield position.
He added the freshman can make goal kicks and conversions from anywhere on the field.
“It was alright – I know I need to practice more,” a modest Franada said about her kicking campaign.
She added, especially in bad conditions, she has not been as consistent as she would have liked.
“I am really happy I have been able to take on that role with the team,” Franada noted.
Cavanagh was named AUS coach of the year.
“We are very proud of Mike receiving this award for a remarkable 10th time,” St. F.X. director of athletics Leo MacPherson said in a press release.
“He never gets complacent, when it comes to recruiting and coaching his teams to reach their full potential.”
X-Women joining Alphonso and Franada on the conference all-star team were Sam Lake (front row, prop), Sample (#8), Ellis (fly half/stand-off), Beals (winger) and Jaelei Meyer (fullback).
Going for repeat
The X-Women defended their U Sports championship over the weekend during tournament action in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Results were unavailable at press time.